Dana White has broken his silence about the historic trade pulled off by the UFC with ONE Championship on Monday.
Speaking to TMZ, White discussed the UFC getting undefeated former Bellator and ONE champion Ben Askren and shipping off former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson to ONE. White said Johnson’s legacy — with a record 11 straight title defenses — will continue to hold up in the annals of mixed martial arts lore.
“If you look at it, the kid broke the record for the most title defenses,” White said. “I feel like he never really got the love and the respect that he deserved from the fans. I don’t know if he was always thrilled being here. So hopefully he’s a lot happier where he’s headed now. His longtime trainer and coach [Matt Hume] is an executive over there, so maybe he’ll be happier over there.”
Regarding Askren, White said there is no firm plan yet as to who he will fight next. Askren has been on the attack against just about every member of the UFC’s welterweight division — and some outside it — since news of the trade broke last week. Askren has called out everyone from Khabib Nurmagomedov to Conor McGregor to Georges St-Pierre.
White told TMZ that the UFC is angling to give Askren (18-0, 1 NC) a big fight at 170 pounds against a top contender.
“I don’t know, we’re still working on it,” White said. “Obviously, he’s gonna come into the welterweight division — 170 pounds — and he’s undefeated, he’s their champion. So we’re excited about it. He’s definitely gonna fight somebody in the top five.”